Outside the doors of St. Anne Catholic Church in Rock Hill at noon on Friday, the sun was hot and children played noisily on the adjacent school’s playground.
Inside, though, the lights were dim, the air was cool and several dozen people quietly sang a hymn. The bells of the church tolled outside to mark the noon hour as the people stood silently, heads bowed. Then the priest stood in front of those assembled and said Mass.
At the back of the room stood a large photo of a woman in a white sundress, hair blowing in the wind, smiling contentedly.
The woman in the picture is 31-year-old Crystal Morrison Prentice, and the Mass and the music opened a 24-hour vigil to pray for her safe return home.
Prentice, who grew up in Rock Hill and attended St. Anne, left her workplace in Concord, N.C., one year ago Friday and hasn’t been seen since.
Her family hopes the prayers result in clues to her disappearance.
On Thursday, Prentice’s father, Rick Morrison, said they still have hope that Crystal will be found.
The vigil will last until noon Saturday, , with a closing service.
In one of the rooms next to the main worship space at St. Anne, a table was set up with pictures of Prentice, as a child, as an adult, with family and holding her son, who had just started third grade when Prentice went missing.
Concord police are still investigating Prentice’s disappearance.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072